This exercise is a continuation of the awareness of the present moment exercise which you can find here. Once you are aware of your external world, you gently and in a relaxed way bring your attention to your internal world. You observe emotions, thoughts and any other sensations that manifest within you. If you do that consistently, you will not only notice that those thoughts, emotions, sensations etc. are separate energies from who you really are, but you will also see how they are affecting and controlling your life.
Those inner states are in esoteric terminology known as “egos” (and more and more contemporary psychologists are using this term too). Egos are the inferior part of us – energies such as anger, pride, fear, lust, greed, gluttony, jealousy etc. They manifest in what is known as the five inferior centers of the body – intellectual, emotional, motor, instinctual and sexual center. These energies are part of the subconscious, and the spiritual work deals with transforming the subconscious into consciousness.
In the intellectual center they manifest as subconscious thoughts, which are thoughts not consciously conjured. The majority of the time it is these kinds of thoughts that go through our mind.
In the emotional center they manifest as emotions, and it is easy to notice them there. Emotions which we can feel can vary greatly. There is an enormous range of them, much more then those most commonly known. Usually it’s easy to notice big outbursts of emotions, but there are also subtle ones which can eventually snowball into outbursts or just keep us in low states without us realizing why we feel so low. Emotional center is covering big part of torso.
The motor center is located on the upper part of the back. Egos manifesting in the motor center can take control over our entire body. For example, a person is walking down the street and they hear some unusual sound in the distance. The person might suddenly turn around to see what is happening. This action will happen without the person really consciously deciding to do it. Another example is tapping your foot when waiting.
The instinctual center is a very basic one and is located in the lower part of your back. Usually this center keeps us out of danger, but egos that use it can cause a lot of trouble. The instinctual center can react with fear when there is no danger around, like for example when walking through a dark forest and imagining scary scenarios. Crippling fear then enters into the instinctive center and causes paralyzing sensations. Another manifestation is when you burn your finger on a stove and suddenly pull the finger back. Even though this instinct is a useful thing to have, it is much better when egos in the instinctual center are replaced by consciousness.
The last center is the sexual center and the ego that manifest there is lust. Sensations of lust can be easily observed and noticed, especially when an attractive person of opposite sex is seen. However, lust in the sexual center can also be triggered by fantasizing.
To be aware of what is going on within you and outside of you is really the complete practice of awareness. If you will only practice awareness of the external world, then your inner states will eventually pull you back into a daydream. The consciousness that we are is still very small and undeveloped, and it is like a piece of driftwood in a stormy sea – it is just a matter of time until it will be overridden by the waves of egos. To not allow that to happen you have to guard it by being aware of your egos and in this way you prevent from taking control. Buddha said how consciousness is like a candle flame amidst fiery winds – we need to surround that flame with our hands (self-observation) so that it doesn’t extinguish.
Similarly, like the previous exercise of awareness of the present moment, this one is also simple and after a period of time it becomes a natural way of living. It is the second foundational step towards the First Key for Awakening – elimination of the egos and their transformation into consciousness.